Finland flag Finland: Business Environment

Business Practices in Finland

Opening hours and bank holidays

General Information
This is Finland, A guide to Finnish customs and manners by This is Finland
Commisceo Global, Finnish culture as per Commisceo Global
Opening Hours and Days
Offices are closed on Saturday and Sunday.

Public Holidays

New Year’s Day 1 January
Epiphany 6 January
Good Friday End of March or April, changes according to the year
Easter Sunday and Monday following the Good Friday
May Day 1 May
Ascension Day May, changes according to the year
Whitsun May, changes according to the year
Mid-Summer Day End of June, changes according to the year
All Saints’ Day End of October or beginning of November, changes according to the year
Independence Day 6 December
Christmas Eve and Day 24-25 December
Boxing Day 26 December

Periods When Companies Usually Close

Christmas One week between Christmas and New Year
Summer holidays 1-4 weeks starting from Midsummer (around 24 June)

Business culture

The Fundamental Principles of Business Culture
Business protocol in Finland values above all modesty, facts and straight-forwardness. Key values include equality, trust, individualism, respect for personal space, honesty, punctuality, education, lifelong learning and caring for nature. Though a homogeneous country, Finns respect other cultures while being proud of their history and culture.

As an egalitarian culture, Finns promote workspace equality. Thus, hierarchy tends to be flat. Junior managers often have decision-making authority.

Finns may also be transactional, meaning they do not require personal relationships to conduct business (that said, Finns may prefer doing business with people they know and trust). Relationship building often takes place outside the office: in a restaurant or at the sauna.

First Contact
Appointments are necessary and should preferably be made two weeks in advance by telephone or email. It is extremely difficult to meet with people without a formal appointment. You should set up the meeting with the secretary or personal assistant. It is advised not to schedule meetings between June and August, as people take their holidays during this period.
Time Management
Being punctual is a sign of respect and efficiency. You should notify your counterpart about any delay of more than five minutes. An agenda is often planned and respected.
Greetings and Titles
When greeting, the parties shake hands, make eye contact, and nod their heads. A Finnish handshake is brief, firm, and involves no supporting gestures. When introducing themselves, Finns will say their first name followed by their surname. Finns use first names unless there are big differences in age/rank or it is a very formal setting. Titles are generally not utilised.
Gift Policy
Gifts are rarely given in business relations, with Christmas gifts being the exception. Small gifts (books, local items or liquor) can be acceptable after successful negotiations.
Dress Code
Business dress code is conservative. Men wear dark coloured, conservative business suits whereas women wear conservative business suits, trouser suits, or dresses.
Business Cards
Businessmen and public officials are expected to distribute business cards as a means of ensuring their name and title are remembered. There are no special rituals related to exchanging business cards in Finland. For a visitor, receiving a business card provides a convenient opportunity to ask how a name is pronounced or what a cryptic title might mean.
Meetings Management
Finns rarely engage in small talk during business dealings. You should avoid personal questions until your counterpart asks them (if at all).

You should follow a clear agenda during meetings and presentations. Finns seldom ask questions; it is important for a presenter to make his/her case with sufficient detail.

It is very important to make and maintain eye contact during face-to-face communication. Avoid exaggerations. Extreme gestures, expressions and tones must be avoided. Doing business in Finland requires time and patience. Two to three-minute pauses of silence are common and should not be interrupted as it is considered rude. Never interrupt another person, as being too talkative may seem suspicious. Most business dealings are held in offices, not restaurants. Smart debate and humour is welcome.

Coffee, tea, soft drinks and biscuits are usually served during meetings. Alcohol is rarely consumed during lunch time. One should never turn down an invitation to use the sauna, as it is an entrenched part of the Finnish culture. Unlike other European countries, business can be discussed during meals. Service charges are included in bills; extra tipping is not necessary, but can be viewed favourably in more expensive restaurants. The person who invites pays; bills are rarely split.

Sources for Further Information
Finland guide - Finnish language, culture, customs and etiquette Meeting etiquette

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Latest Update: July 2024